Design Firm CFO, Andy Wilson Featured in SFBT

Forge takes pride in taking on challenging projects — both in architecture and interiors. The architecture and design firm, formerly known as FME Architecture + Design, rebranded in March in an effort to emphasize the stakeholder experience and innovative methods. Founded in 1980, the company has been a longtime Bay Area player, with key projects including The Battery, VF Outdoor Campus, DPR Construction and Teecom. Andrew Wilson, Forge’s CFO, spoke about what comes next for the company.

What distinguishes Forge from other architecture firms in the area?That’s very top of mind for us because of our recent rebrand. It’s not just credentials anymore, it’s not the people — our rebrand was heavily focused on the stakeholders’ experience. It’s not just the end product, it’s also about the process. Beyond meeting expectations or meeting (budgets) for our clients, we’re focusing on delivering additional experiences that they might not expect. We involve ourselves early in the project and that allows us to help shape it.

How’s business? Business is booming. We’ve experienced the most successful three-year cycle in our 37-year history. Our revenue growth over that three-year period has been well over 105 percent. There’s a stronger economy, which helps bolster that, but if you look historically there’s been a lot of strong economies over the years. We’re very pleased to be where we are.

What’s next? We’ve become much more comfortable embracing change. We’re doing something unusual for a company of our size: We’re looking a lot more at R&D. Technology is leading to a lot more automation, so it’s our intellectual capital that is our most important resource. We are working on developing an R&D department, which allows us to stay on top of trends and emerging technologies. How we utilize them and bring them to our projects is something we will continue to evolve.

How do you incorporate virtual reality into a client’s experience? Virtual reality is not a new technology, but its application is becoming more prominent. It allows our client base in different cities to view in real time our process before time and money are spent on the physical space. You can put on goggles and tour the space and know what the space will look like before documentation and ongoing design innovations. This brings additional value for our entire client base. So far it’s been positively received. Everyone is familiar with the product, but when it’s customized to your own space or you’re able to visualize it beyond drawings, it’s bringing a different degree to deliver something the client isn’t expecting.

Most notable project? The Battery was a five-year project where we worked with owners of a private membership club. It was six projects under one roof. It was initially supposed to be an incubator space, but through design we had to start over and deliver on the new vision of the owners. The Battery is one of the key projects we continue to promote because it was such a successful one for us.

Any challenges? One is regional. The cost of living in the Bay Area continues to create challenges in recruiting and retaining top talent.

Read the original article, written by Hannah Norman, here on Bizjournals.com.

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